Cannabis Terpenes – What They Are And How The Could Benefit You
If you can tell the difference between a melon and a lemon, Your senses of smell and taste are working!
What you’re sensing in meals, fruits, flowers, and even cleaning products are terpenes.
These organic compounds that give plants flavour and smell are present in cannabis flowers, too.
So let’s dive into what terpenes really are and how they could benefit you.
What are terpenes?
Terpenes (pronounced tur-peens), or terpenoids, are aromatic metabolites found in the oils of all plants.
There are more than 20,000 terpenes in existence. And at least 100 produced by the Cannabis plant. Terpenoid production evolved over time in plants, to attract pollinators and to act as defense compounds.
Female cannabis plants produce glandular trichomes, which are glands that look like small hairs or growths that protrude from the flowers and leaves. Trichomes house crucial compounds, including CBD, THC, flavonoids and terpenes.
When plants are handled delicately and the trichomes remain intact throughout collection and processing. You end up with excellent cannabis with strong and distinct flavours, colours, and smells.
Terpenes & the entourage effect
Studies have shown that terpenes work together to help cannabinoids pass through the bloodstream easier. And “lower” the blood-to-brain barrier.
Basically, you feel more or less of the effects of a strain based on the terpenes found in it.
Not only that, but because terpenes have their own medicinal effects, they work together to amp up or chill out the dominant effects of the other cannabinoids. This is called the “entourage effect” because of the way the different components can work together, play off each other, and enhance or downplay the end effects.
For example, the popular terpene myrcene, known for lowering the resistance across the blood-to-brain barrier, which speeds up the effects of the prominent cannabinoids. If myrcene was present in a THC-rich strain, it would lessen the time between consumption and the psychotropic aftereffect.
How terpenes work in the body
As we’ve mentioned, terpenes have their own effects apart from their relationship with cannabinoids. Including inhibiting serotonin uptake and enhancing norepinephrine activity (acting as antidepressants), increasing dopamine (regulating emotions and pleasure experiences), and augmenting GABA (the “downer” neurotransmitter associated with relaxing effects).
Currently, the accepted knowledge is that terpenes compound or lighten the effects of CBD by binding to endocannabinoid receptors and neurotransmitters and imitating compounds our bodies naturally produce (to regulate emotions, weight, health, etc).
Examples of terpenes found in cannabis
Pinene: Pinene, the most common terpene in the world, has anti-inflammatory properties. Pinene comes from orange peels, pine needles, basil, and parsley. Can counter short-term memory loss from THC, improve airflow to your lungs, and promote alertness.
Myrcene: Myrcene, comes from mangoes, hops, thyme, lemongrass, and basil, the most commonly found terpene in cannabis. Can compose up to 50 percent of a cannabis plant’s terpenes. Myrcene is also useful as an anti-inflammatory, a sedative, and a muscle relaxer. Many indica strains have high levels of myrcene, which contribute to the tired/stoned feeling (if higher than 0.5% myrcene in a strain, it creates the “couch-lock” feeling in users).
Limonene: As its name suggests, limonene bears the scent of lemons, oranges, mandarins, limes, and grapefruits. It’s also – interestingly enough – probably found in your favourite cleaning products or perfumes because of its’ citrusy scent. It can elevate mood, relieve stress, and has antifungal and antibacterial properties to boot. It also improves absorption of other terpenes and chemicals through the skin, which makes it great in strains that you use for tinctures, ointments, and other topicals.
Linalool: Linalool comes from flowers and spices like lavender and coriander, known for its stress-relieving, anti-inflammatory, and anti-depressant effects. The linalool terpene balances out the anxious side effects of THC, making it a useful treatment of both anxiety and psychosis. Linalool boosts the immune system and significantly reduce lung inflammation.
Caryophyllene: Caryophyllene comes from thai basils, cloves, cinnamon leaves and black pepper. Studies show that it can help treat anxiety, depression, and act as an anti-inflammatory, which sounds like a big job to handle for one small terpene.